YOUNGSTER Khairul Hafiz Jantan is the fastest man in South-East Asia.
The 19-year-old from Melaka made a memorable debut by becoming the youngest Malaysian sprinter to win the gold in the men’s 100m final in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
Khairul clocked 10.38 seconds to finish ahead of Eric Shauwn Cray of the Philippines at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night.
Eric was clearly exhausted after he retained the gold in the 400m hurdles just an hour before the 100m final.
The 25-year-old Eric, who is based in Texas, the United States, and Thailand’s Kritsada Nasuwun both clocked 10.43 but the Filipino was awarded the bronze.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were at the stadium to watch the both the 100m men and women’s final.
Khairul, who clocked the fastest time of 10.34 in the heats, is the fourth Malaysian to win the 100m gold.
Tan Sri Dr M. Jegathesan was the first Malaysian to win the gold at the 1965 KL Games, G. Rajalingam in Bangkok in 1967 and Nazmizan Mohamed in Vietnam in 2003.
National coach Mohd Poad Mohd Kassim was delighted with Khairul’s efforts.
“I knew that Khairul will win the gold as he clocked the fastest time in the region this year. It’s a dream come true for him.
“I’m sure Khairul will be gunning for the 200m gold tomorrow as he also clocked the fastest time (20.90) this year in the region.”
Le Tu Chinh of Vietnam clocked 11.56 to win the women’s blue riband event.
Pint-sized Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli did well to win the silver for Malaysia in 11.74. It was her first individual medal in the Games.
Singapore’s Veronica Shanti bagged the bronze in 11.76.
Zaidatul shed tears of joy for her efforts.
“All my hard work in training paid off and I’m delighted to win the silver. It will inspire me to give my best in the 200m,” said Zaidatul.
See our full coverage of SEA Games 2017